One of cinema's greatest actor-director tandems has enlisted ILM to help them recapture the magic of the past.
We're seeing it more and more. And it makes us feel some combination of fascinated, unsettled, and flat out weird.
It's that CGI de-aging trick. It was employed to help with Brad Pitt's backward transformation in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was used a little bit for one scene with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the third and mercifully often forgotten entry in the X-Men franchise.
You might have seen it on Samuel L. Jackson in the recent Captain Marvel trailer.
Well, get ready because your about to see it on Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, among others, in Netflix and Martin Scorsese's gangster reunion party The Irishman.
In this recent interview with Collider, Robert De Niro talks at length about the struggle to get the movie made, where he is in his career now, and how this all is going to come together on The Irishman.
It's been a long time since the legends teamed up. At one time the phrase "Scorsese and De Niro" was synonymous with great movies, and the two were almost inseparable from one another. But their last collaboration was released a millennials lifetime ago.
Now they're back and with frequent collaborators Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel in tow, along with screen legend Al Pacino, it feels a lot like that gangs getting back together for one last job before riding into the sunset.
They'll all be attempting to recapture the magic, while also literally turning back the clock with the help of the de-aging technology.
Casino, as epic, grandiose, and downright messy as the city it takes place in, was released in 1995. Bill Clinton was in his first term. Nobody had cell phones. Apple was in the dumps. Things were quite different.
It felt like a kind of culmination for the Scorsese- DeNiro duo. They had collaborated many times before, and this effort put together almost all their signature elements. A real-life mob story, littered with sudden and artful brutality, that served as an in-depth character study of a troubled and tortured man.
The fact that they ended there almost made sense, and it also felt like maybe they didn't have anything else to say as a tandem. Taxi Driver. Raging Bull. Goodfellas. These are the classics that defined one era and informed another. This is to say nothing of some of their other great movies from the era including The King of Comedy, and the remake of Cape Fear.
Since 1995 De Niro found a new voice in comedy, Scorsese found a new collaborator in Leonard DiCaprio(along with that elusive best director Oscar), and they both seemed to have their second and even third acts.
Which brings us to The Irishman. It feels like a very big swing from Netflix, the movie was struggling to get made for quite some time until they came along and agreed to foot the 140 million dollar bill.
On some level, it feels a bit like De Niro and Pacino's equivalent of True Grit, the original late western from western icon John Wayne, not the Coen Brothers remake. Wayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn. He didn't have John Ford there to direct him though. And he didn't have ILM to make him young again.
Will those things help De Niro and the rest of this celebrated cast recapture the magic of the movies they made 25+ years ago? Or will it be an empty echo?
Netflix is at least betting we'll show up to find out, and you don't need De Niro's Ace Rothstein character from Casino to tell you it's a pretty good bet.